OLATHE, Kan. — Ah, how we admire those fit, muscular buff bodies. Not thinking about the soul.
“Not recognizing that person might be losing their soul to the exercise and losing their identity,” says Kori Hintz-Bohn of Renew Counseling Center in Olathe.
Jon Smith was losing his identity.
“I thought if I wasn’t exercising, then I was going to be lazy. I was just gonna sit around and I was gonna be fat,” says Jon.
Even before his days as a high school athlete, Jon spent hours a week in sports. Over time, exercise became more than something he wanted to do. He needed to do it.
“It was more like if I had free time, I had to be running,” says Jon.
He had a compulsion to exercise. Some call it an addiction. Last year, the Kansas State University student was running three to four hours a day and lying to others about it.
“They will exercise even if they’re injured, they’re sick,” says Hintz-Bohn.
She says while professional athletes welcome days off, people hooked on exercise don’t. They have to stick to their routine to the point that they’ll give up outings with family and friends. They think about exercise — obsess over it.
“I wasn’t even able to carry on a conversation coherently with people,” Jon says.
He says under it all was perfectionism and a desire to be the best. He couldn’t stand to think that others were doing more exercise.
Jon developed an eating disorder also. The two often go together. Last fall, he was down to one meal a day, eating just carrots, broccoli and kale.
Jon’s weight plummeted to 104 pounds on his 5’9″ frame. He was emaciated although the counselor cautions that people can weigh much more and still have an exercise or eating disorder.
Jon says it hurt to breathe. He spit up blood. That led to medical attention and then a brave decision to go to therapy.
“They’re scared to death that you’re gonna take away the thing that helps them survive,” says Hintz-Bohn.
But with therapy, Jon was able to quit exercise. Recently, when his doctor and dietitian thought it was safe, he started doing a little weight training, but no running. He doesn’t know when or if he’ll ever run again.
“It’s not worth it to like throw yuour life away when you can be experiencing so many other things.”
Instead of runing away from them.
Click here for some of the warning signs of excessive exercising.